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Articles of 2004

Juarez, Guinn in Search of Redemption

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For many people, home is where the heart is. It is also looked upon as the safest place to settle when the going gets rough. For others, it is too familiar a place where too many bad memories exist. Rather than stick around and face your problems on a daily basis, they leave town in search of a new start.

The latter can be said for still promising heavyweight contender Dominick Guinn, and even more so for undefeated featherweight Ricardo “Rocky” Juarez. Following a loss (Guinn) and a string of less-than-satisfying distance wins (Juarez), the two leave their respective hometowns and share the bill on an ESPN-televised card from Atlantic City, New Jersey (Friday December 3, 9:30PM ET/6:30PM PT). Both are looking forward to the change of scenery.

“I needed to get away from Houston and try something a bit new,” Juarez (21-0, 14KO) told reporters during a conference call last week while preparing for his fight with former featherweight titlist Guty Espadas. “I trained in San Antonio for about a month… I went away for this fight to get away from the distractions back home and to get my mind totally on training and preparing correctly.”

If his past few fights are any indication, then it sounds like a sound plan indeed. His last fight – a 12-round decision over 1996 Olympian Zahir Raheem – saw Rocky lose more rounds than he won for the first time in his career, yet still managed to walk away with the W when all was said and done. Referee Robert Gonzalez wound up deducting three points from Raheem for excessive holding. The deductions – coupled with a knockdown that Rocky scored in the fourth round – proved to be the difference between a win and a split decision draw.

Many in the boxing community insisted that both the scoring and Gonzalez’ rulings were the product of home cooking, which Juarez has grown tired of hearing.

“I’ve already looked past that fight. It was a controversial fight, and people are saying that the referee was on my side, but it’s getting old already. He never caught me with any punches and never hurt me. I won the fight, and deserved to win it. It’s time to move on.”

Guinn (25-1,18KO) is also looking to move on. Unlike Juarez, there is no controversial win or an undefeated record that can come from his last significant bout. No, he has long accepted the fact that Monte Barrett was well deserving of the ten round decision this past March in Little Rock, about an hour or so from his hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“Monte fought a great fight, and I didn’t,” was the initial reaction after the fight from Guinn, always the class act regardless of result. “I didn’t let my hands go enough in the fight, and that was ultimately the difference. It had nothing to do with anything physical, or with my trainers. I didn’t do my job.”

Not much has changed in his view of the fight nine months later. The only extra wrinkle came from his co-trainer Ronnie Shield, who offered his take on the fight that night.

“I thought there was a lot of pressure on him fighting in Little Rock. He was trying to please everyone and all of a sudden, when you are trying to please everyone instead of trying to win the fight, you get away from the plan.”

The take is a reasonable one, as Guinn had never looked that lethargic before or since, though “since” only comprises of a first round knockout over battle-tested Phil Jackson. Friday night, he challenges Serguei Lyakhovich (21-1, 14KO) in what is considered to be his first test since the lone loss of his career. Even though the test is about 900 miles away from home, he still likes the surroundings all the same.

“I feel like AC is my second home,” comments Guinn on fighting in Atlantic City for the third time in eighteen months. “After the (Michael) Grant fight, I told Kathy Duva that I like it there and I want to fight for my first championship there.”

For Juarez, it will be his first fight in Atlantic City, and in fact his first fight outside of Houston since the summer of 2003. That fight was against David Murillo, a twenty-six second one-punch KO that many experts had slated as the year’s best knockout. Fittingly enough, it was the last knockout he has scored, as his last three have not only gone the distance, but also failed to impress. Rocky is hoping that the change of scenery changes all of that, though people shouldn’t automatically expect a knockout every time he fights.

“I changed my style a lot. I’ve been boxing a lot more now. You get used to knocking guys out with one punch, but now we are practicing on letting my punches go and not just go for the one punch.”

Facing a former champion in Espadas (38-6, 24KO), Juarez expects another tough fight while waiting for his mandatory title shot in 2005.

“I’ve been ready for a title shot, but I like to fight and I’ve liked the tough fights that I have been in. They have prepared me well. They’ve been tough and now I’m one fight away from fighting for a world title. Espadas has known for two months (about this fight), and I’m sure he’s ready. He’s a veteran and it will be another tough fight.”

While Guinn is in an equally tough fight on paper, he doesn’t plan to allow matters to get too tough once the bell sounds.

“I’m going to go in there and prove that I am the top heavyweight prospect, like I was before the Barrett fight. I want to come out and take control of the fight, let my hands go more. If I fight the way I train, nobody in the division can beat me.”

Considering the state of today’s heavyweight division, he may very well be right.

“Right now, the division is rough. I need to go out there and prove that I am the best. No heavyweight can let his hands go the way I can. After I beat (Lyakhovich), 2005 is going to be another big year for me.”

Should Juarez defeat Espadas, 2005 looks to be a big year for him as well. Rocky is presently the mandatory challenger for both the WBC title (held by In Jin Chi), and the IBF title (held by Juan Manuel Marquez, who also owns the WBA belt). In fact, he could have just as easily pushed for a world title shot now, but preferred to get more experience under his belt first. Both on fight night, and during training camp.

“I was able to spar with (former two-division champ) Acelino Freitas for this fight, which has helped me tremendously. He’s a very good fighter – a much bigger fighter than I am. Sparring with him gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to see where I am in boxing today. The experience only helps my career. Now I know that I’m ready.”

Both he and Guinn are ready to do it where they perform best – on the road.

Articles of 2004

The Best in Chicago Boxing Returns

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Dominic Pesoli's 8 Count Productions and Bob Arum's Top Rank Incorporated along with Miller Lite presents SOLO BOXEO DE MILLER, THE ARAGON RUMBLE, another installment of The Best in Chicago Boxing on Friday, January 14th, broadcast live internationally as part of Telefutura's Friday night professional boxing series.

The newly remodeled Aragon Ballroom is located at 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. near the corner of Lawrence and Broadway in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood and is easily accessible, just 4 blocks west of Lake Shore Drive and just 4 miles east of the Kennedy expressway. There are three large parking lots located within a 1/2 block of the Aragon Ballroom. Additionally, the Howard Street Blue Line stops just across the street. Doors will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

Headlining the action packed card is the American debut of super-bantamweight Ricardo “PIOLO” Castillo, 12-2 (6KO's) of Mexicali, Mexico as he squares off in a scheduled ten rounder against WBO Latino Champion, Edel Ruiz, 24-12-3 (13KO's) of Los Mochis, SI, Mexico. Castillo will be accompanied to the ring by his brother, World Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo.

In the co-main event of the evening, one of Chicago's most popular fighters, middleweight “MACHO” Miguel Hernandez, 14-1 (9KO's), battles hard swinging local veteran “MARVELOUS” Shay Mobley, 7-4-1 (2KO's), of One In a Million Inc.in a scheduled eight rounder.

The huge undercard bouts include;

Carlos Molina vs TBA, six rounds, junior middleweights
Frankie Tafoya vs TBA, four rounds, featherweights
Ottu Holified vs. Allen Medina, four rounds, middleweights
Francisco Rodriguez vs. LaShaun Blair, four rounds, bantamweights
Rita Figueroa vs. Sarina Hayden, four rounds, junior welterweights

Said Dominic Pesoli, President of 8 Count Productions, “it was a terrific evening last month and our fans were thrilled to be at the Aragon to watch David, Speedy and Luciano. David Diaz's fight against Jaime Rangel was a fight people will talk about for a long time. Our commitment to our fans is to make every event of ours better than the last one. This main event is terrific, both guys are very tough Mexicans who won't take a step back.

The fans love Miguel and Mobley figures to be a very tough opponent. Him and David Estrada had a six round war last June at our show. And the undercard showcases a lot of new, younger talent that is coming out of Chicago right now. Tafoya and Holifield have both had very successful beginnings to their careers and Francisco Rodriguez comes with fantastic amateur credentials and David Diaz says he has all the talent to be a great pro.”

“We've got big plans for 2005 and this show should take up right where last months show left off. The huge crowd loved the action last time and I'm sure they'll say the same thing this time.”

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Articles of 2004

2004 Boxing Pound for Pound List

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The final boxing pound-for-pound list of the year for 2004.

1. Bernard Hopkins: The top guy from beginning to end, Hopkins took care of Oscar De La Hoya with a body shot in the biggest fight of 2004. Now, he'll wait for Jermain Taylor to progress a little further, or he'll go the rematch route with Felix Trinidad. Either way, Hopkins stands to earn a lot of money in 2005 and extend that all-time middleweight reign.

2. Floyd Mayweather: How long has it been since we've seen Mayweather in a meaningful fight? Certainly not in 2004, when he outpointed the difficult DeMarcus Corley. He's slated for a January outing against a no-name. Enough stalling, already, “Pretty Boy”. Fight someone we care about (preferably Kostya Tszyu), or you'll lose your #2 position sometime in 2005.

3. Felix Trinidad: “Tito” stormed back with a magnificent knockout of Ricardo Mayorga in 2004, and now hopes to capitalize on it with big money fights. He'd like nothing more than a rematch with his only conqueror, Hopkins, but he may also opt for old nemesis Oscar De La Hoya. Either way, Trinidad is sure to fight a big fight sometime in the coming year.

4. Kostya Tszyu: What a difference one fight makes. As recently as late October, the boxing world was wondering whether Tszyu was even serious about the sport anymore. We found out with a second round demolition of Sharmba Mitchell. And that made the junior welterweight division very attractive. Tszyu has several options now, including Arturo Gatti and Mayweather or even a hop up to welterweight to challenge Cory Spinks. Let's hope one of them happens in 2005.

5. Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao fought twice in 2004, and what a fight the first one was. His thrilling war with Juan Manuel Marquez was the best brawl of the year, and there is a chance that the two rivals will go at it again in 2005. If not, Pacquiao has a list full of options: Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, etc. Pacquiao will fight one of them in the next year.

6. Marco Antonio Barrera: Another guy thought to be washed up when the year started, Barrera resurrected his career for the second time with a masterful victory over Paulie Ayala and a close decision over rival Erik Morales in another great fight. Barrera is obviously shooting for a return with Pacquiao, who decimated him in November 2003. Barrera says it was an off-night. Hopefully, we'll find out if that was the case.

7. Winky Wright: Winky entered the “superstar” realm in 2004 with a pair of decision victories over Shane Mosley. The first was very impressive, as Wright practically shut Mosley out. The second was closer, but proved once again that Winky was the superior fighter. He'd like a shot at Trinidad or Oscar De La Hoya, but neither will happen. He'd probably be best off shooting for a name like Fernando Vargas or Ricardo Mayorga.

8. Juan Manuel Marquez: After several years on the outside looking in, Marquez is finally in a position to make some money after his courageous performance against Pacquiao. He rose from three first-round knockdowns to wage the fight of his life in a fight that was ruled a draw. It would also be interesting to see Marquez against countrymen Barrera and Erik Morales.

9. Erik Morales: “El Terrible” fought another great fight against Barrera, but, again, it was in a losing cause. He has now lost two of three to his fierce rival, and probably wants nothing to do with him anymore. But, eventually, talk of Barrera-Morales 4 will come up again. In the meantime, Morales could shoot for Pacquiao or Marquez.

10. Glencoffe Johnson: The newest entry, Johnson pumped some life into boxing in 2004 with a pair of upsets of Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver. Now, he's set to make some really big money in rematches with either, or a shot at old conqueror Hopkins. Either way, Johnson is better than anyone imagined.

11. Jose Luis Castillo: Castillo made some comeback noise of his own in 2004, beating Juan Lazcano for his old vacant title and decisioning Joel Casamayor for another big win. He says he wants Kostya Tszyu next, and if that materializes, boxing fans will be in for a treat. If not, Castillo vs. Diego Corrales is a great fight.

12. Oscar De La Hoya: Hard to erase that picture of De La Hoya grimacing in agony courtesy of a Hopkins shot to the ribs, but the “Golden Boy” had no business fighting at 160 pounds. He should drop down to junior middle or even welterweight again if he has any hope of regaining his past form. But 2005 could be the final year for one of boxing's all-time great attractions.

On the brink: Antonio Tarver, Diego Corrales, James Toney

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Articles of 2004

Heavyweight Joe Mesi Bringing Lawsuit

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As reported by the Buffalo News, Joe Mesi is suing the New York State Athletic Commission and the MRI center that conducted tests on the heavyweight boxer after his bout with Vassiliy Jirov. Mesi reportedly suffered brain injuries in the Jirov bout, which has left his boxing status uncertain.

The lawsuit alleges Mesi's medical records were improperly released to the NYSAC. The records, the lawsuit goes on to allege, were then released to the media, prejudicing Mesi's right to have his status reviewed by the appropriate boxing authorities.

The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, as the extent of damages will be affected by whether Mesi is able to resume his career as a leading heavyweight contender.

Mesi hopes to have his status reviewed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission within the coming month. The ruling of the NSAC promises to be key in whether Mesi will be able to resume his boxing career.

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